Things were back to normal early last Friday morning for Nathan Lancaster. Well, as about as normal as could be expected, less than 12 hours after a wild and memorable game in Costa Mesa Oct. 24.
The Laguna Beach High senior certainly had some relevant numbers to share with his peers in his statistics class Oct. 25, in the 8:30 a.m. class that was his first of the day.
On Oct. 24 at Jim Scott Stadium at Estancia High, Lancaster went into a class by himself when he rushed his way into the Orange County football record books.
“Amazing,” and, “unbelievable,” were the same two words both his coach, Corey Brown, and former coach, Mike Churchill, used when describing the speedy, 6-foot, 185-pound running back’s performance against Calvary Chapel.
Lancaster shattered the Orange County record for single-game rushing yards when he ripped, roared and fought his way for 547 yards in a 62-56 overtime loss in an Orange Coast League game. He also reached the end zone seven times on 30 carries, two of those carries coming in overtime where he didn’t gain a yard.
Lancaster broke the county record when he scored on a 68-yard run with 2:41 remaining in the fourth quarter. His touchdown gave the Breakers, ranked No. 8 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division, a 56-49 lead. No. 6-ranked Calvary Chapel came back to tie the score in the final minute, to send the game to overtime.
The Eagles then took their first and only lead of the game when they scored the winning touchdown in overtime.
Lancaster said he had no idea that he had hoarded so many rushing yards. He found out after the game that he had, by 20 yards, eclipsed the old county record of 527 rushing yards set by Skyler Champion of Foothill in a 1999 game against Orange.
“I went online, and saw on the L.A. Times website, what I had done,” Lancaster said. “To be honest, I was shocked. I didn’t expect that many yards. I thought I had, maybe, 300 yards. I definitely was surprised.”
Surprised, maybe, but for those in attendance, they witnessed a huge game by a talented back who, whether he hits a pile and looks as though he’s about to be taken down, or blazes into the open field, is difficult to contain.
“I’ve never seen a player run for so many yards,” said Churchill, the Laguna Beach Athletic Director who has been in the coaching business for more than 40 years, and coached Lancaster in the 2011 and 2012 varsity seasons. “The thing I’ve been saying about Nate, is what I’ve been saying all along: he’s like Teflon. Guys had him wrapped up in a tackle several times last night and the next thing you knew, he’d get away.
“The kid’s been racking up yards since his sophomore year. When he breaks into the secondary, he’s hard to catch. He makes things happen.”
Lancaster said Thursday’s game felt no different than any other. When you look back over the past two weeks, his terrific rushing games of 335 yards against Saddleback, and 298 yards last week against Estancia, almost pale in comparison to the yardage he racked up against Calvary Chapel.
Not only is the 547 yards a new county mark, they also now rank second in CIF Southern Section history. behind the 619 yards Ronney Jenkins of Hueneme ran for against Channel Islands during the 1995 season.
Also falling by the wayside were three Laguna Beach single-game records: rushing yards (547), first-half rushing yards — 291, which he amassed on only 11 carries, touchdowns (seven), and points scored (44).
He has also set, in only eight games, the school record for yards averaged per game (148.00). He needs one more touchdown to tie Drake Martinez’s (2011) single-season rushing touchdowns record (27), and 12 TDs to break the school’s career scoring record.
To date in his career, Lancaster has 52 overall touchdowns (44 rushing), second-most in each category behind Martinez, and is averaging an incredible 12.7 yards per carry for his career.
In three varsity seasons for the Breakers, he has rushed for 3,348 yards on 263 carries, In eight games this season, he has already set the new school single-season record for rushing yards at 1,924, surpassing Martinez (1,889) who had set the mark in 13 games in 2011.
He is 20 yards shy of breaking Martinez’s career rushing record of 3,533 yards.
As a team Oct. 24, Laguna set school records for rushing yards (662 yards) and total yards (681 yards), for a game.
Laguna is in its 79th year of football.
Lancaster was quick to point out and compliment his accomplices on the record-breaking night.
“Our [offensive] line was doing a great job, and so was Andres [DeLaRosa] who was kicking it out at fullback,” said Lancaster, who two years ago was the OCL champion in both the 100 and 200 meters, and is a two-time league champion in the shotput for track and field. “They were opening up holes, and I just found them and took off. It was all clicking.”
Brown had a front-and-center view of Lancaster’s performance, which left him in awe on the Laguna sideline.
“There were a few runs where he’d hit a hole, and then he was gone, just like that,” Brown said. “There were two or three plays where he’d make people miss, then hit the corner. He’d run into a pile, then break away. One play, he was bottled up and then cut across the field, and ran for a touchdown.
“He was just amazing.”
In the Calvary Chapel game, Laguna scored on the first play from scrimmage. The Breakers held a 21-7 lead early, and had a two-touchdown advantage in the third quarter, plus that late, fourth-quarter lead. It appeared the last team to touch the ball would win and Calvary Chapel, which held the Breakers in four plays on the first possession in overtime, took that honor.
The 118 points scored by both teams ranks first all-time in Laguna football history, and ninth all-time in the CIF Southern Section. The prevous school single-game scoring total was set two years ago when Laguna ran past Ocean View, 73-40.
Lancaster said he slept well after the game, but was a little sore when he awoke Friday. The Breakers had the day off, and he said he had planned to put a little heat and ice on his worked out frame.
“Our entire team gave it their all out there [Oct. 24], on every play, to the very last play,” he said. “The only thing I take away from the game, is that we left everything on the field.”
*This story has been updated to include accurate Oct. 24 statistics.